We headed north up the gorgeous Natchez Trace Parkway to the family farm to visit with family.
On the way, we pulled off at the Overlook, took in the beauty of the Reservoir and ate our sandwiches.
A sailboat lay at anchor, sail furled, the craft at rest. A pontoon boat closer to shore bobbed gently.
Music from the 1940s on our satellite radio gave the scene a timeless quality.
Where were we? What year was this?
Did we just defeat the Axis and begin cashing in our peace dividend?
Since then, other hot wars have come and gone, though none of that magnitude, none that important.
Still, many of our soldiers, sailors and airmen sacrificed their lives in the name of freedom – the cornerstone of our great nation – whether ours or some country’s we deemed worthy.
Well, this wasn’t the Fourth of July or Memorial Day, those holidays set aside to honor our patriots and fallen heroes.
It was a day to rest from labors, to dream, to reflect.
Perhaps even to ponder another hallmark of our country – equality.
The local paper undertook that over the weekend with a Page One think piece.
The specific topic: equal pay for men and women.
A conclusion: women are getting short-changed.
It’s a conclusion that was debunked decades ago, in my opinion, and should be dead. Yet, like a zombie, it staggers across the countryside (why do zombies always stagger?), scaring the citizenry.
Especially in a year in which a woman with an activist bent is running for president.
Economist Thomas Sowell’s books changed my world view in so many ways three decades ago. I have not read or heard anything since that refutes his deeply researched and thought-out arguments.
Sowell, who holds a University of Chicago Ph.D, has long contended that bias – whether sexual, ethnic or racial – is not a sufficient explanation for disparities in pay among men, women, ethnic minorities and other groups.
(Sowell is black, by the way, in case you’ve never seen the mug shot that goes with his syndicated column. And, in case you care, he does not like either presidential candidate.)
There are those who would make such gaps a federal offense.
Certainly, there are individual cases of, in this case, sexual bias. The Clarion-Ledger devoted the top part of the Page One article to a woman who seemed to to make a good case for being a victim of discrimination.
She was a welder at Ingalls Shipbuilding until she was laid off. She had been paid equal to all the men in the union shop, according to the article. Then she took a job in Louisiana for several dollars an hour less. Then she said found out that some men doing the same job got several dollars an hour more, the article said.
Those things happen.
But the article then made a quantum leap: Mississippi women make 77 percent of what Mississippi men are paid.
The implication? Discrimination, of course. This is Mississippi, after all.
Yet nationwide it’s hardly better, only 79 percent.
The wage disparity between women and men was until a generation ago easily, and correctly, explained by freedom of choice
Such as a choice to raise a family, with the woman taking on most of the child-rearing.
It still is the explanation.
A high percentage are taking on sole rearing duties. Mothers comprise more than 80 percent of single-parent households, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics for 2014. Forty-nine percent of single mothers never married, according to the bureau.
Twenty-five percent of American children are being raised without a father, and nearly half are living below the federal poverty level.
The ability to choose, right or wrong, is still the currency in a free economy.
The woman in the Clarion-Ledger’s “case study”?
She made a decision to go back to Ingalls. She voiced no complaint about that.
» Contact Mississippi Business Journal staff writer Jack Weatherly at firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 364-1016.
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